At the Sea of Galilee, Israel’s “Kinneret College in the Jordan Valley” is busy grooming Israeli water engineers. We first reported on the pioneering program – in which students receive a B.Sc. degree in Water Industries Engineering – back in 2012, two years after its founding. Now the first graduating class is already working in various companies in Israel’s water arena, and the program is setting its sights on a new challenge – creating a hub for water engineers in Israel, and in the future, perhaps internationally. To this end the College held its first “Conference on Technologies and Projects in the Water Industry,” in what is planned to be an annual event.
Oded Distel, head of Israel NewTech and the Investment Promotion Center, presented at the event, which drew over 300 participants. “The global water industry is valued at hundreds of billions of dollars, and the international market is thirsty for efficient and cost effective solutions for dealing with difficult challenges in the urban, industrial and agricultural water sectors. The Ministry of Economy, through the Israel NewTech program, is active in Israel and internationally to help companies realize the tremendous potential in the market. I commend Kinneret College for holding this important conference, and moreover for all the work they do to bring to the Israeli water market dozens of highly skilled water engineers every year.”
We spoke with Dr. Ram Shpiner, who heads the Department of Water Industry Engineering at Kinneret College:
“We’re proud to see our first graduating class assimilated so well in the industry,” said Dr. Shpiner. He cited a number of Israeli water technology companies and utilities at which graduates are employed, including Amiad, Odis, Nirosoft (now owned by the Ron Lauder Group), Mekorot Yazum, GES and others. The program currently brings about 40 graduates per year to Israel’s water industry. But Dr. Shpiner sees a greater calling for the program, beyond nurturing skilled water engineers: “We believe in the value of cooperating, sharing information in the community of water engineers.”
This first annual event is a step in creating this hub for water engineers to meet, brainstorm, and forge cooperation. Dr. Shpiner sees this tradition continuing, and including the international water industry community as well in the future.
Another plan in the works is the creation of a water technology research center. One of the areas where Dr. Shpiner identifies potential is the development of plastics products for the water industry.
The conference highlighted some breakthrough projects from Israel’s industry. One of the most exciting projects to take place in Israel recently is the extension of a wastewater system under the Ayalon – Israel’s main highway in the Tel Aviv area. “This project was undertaken without disrupting highway traffic at all, and this an accomplishment even at an international level,” says Dr. Shpiner. The project was undertaken in cooperation between Israeli and foreign companies.
Another project which was presented by A.R.I. dealt with the insertion of air valves in deep well pumping stations, preventing water surge and saving considerable energy. As with many of Israel’s innovations, this project presents technical innovation geared to increasing efficiency and cutting costs.
“Oded Distel’s presentation raised a lot of interest at the event,” said Dr. Shpiner. “His presentation on trends and the international market really opened the students’ eyes to the challenges and opportunities that are out there. I look forward to continuing and deepening our cooperation at the College with Israel NewTech, to strengthen even more Israel’s standing as a source of breakthrough water innovations for the world.